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BMW Z4: Buying guide and review (2003-2008)

BMW Z4: Buying guide and review (2003-2008) Classic and Performance Car
BMW Z4 3.0 BMW Z4 3.0 BMW Z4 3.0 BMW Z4 3.0 Coupe BMW Z4 3.0 Coupe
Launched in 2003, the BMW Z4 roadster was the long-awaited replacement for the extremely successful Z3 - BMW’s first foray into the mass-market two-seater sportscar segment. Controversial Chris Bangle-era styling, electromechanical power-steering and the adoption of run flat tyres met with some criticism at launch, but the well balanced handling and great range of engines ensured that the Z4 carried on its predecessors success story.

With its focus on handling and driving dynamics, the Z4 earned itself a reputation as a great drivers’ car, the M versions in particular are already becoming modern collectors cars. 
Which one to buy?
There are a large number of engine variations to choose from, however the basic running costs for the non-M six-cylinder models are quite similar, making the larger capacity variants – which provide a decent hike in power over the 2.2-litre cars – highly desirable. The 3.0-litre model in particular is a great compromise between the full-fat M variants and the lower models in the range, and was also the only non-M car that was made available in Coupe form. 

The Coupe, introduced in 2006, is a significantly rarer car than the soft-top. Thanks to the much more rigid body structure handling is even better, while there’s a slightly more usable luggage space in the back too. Ride quality on standard suspension is very firm, meaning that cars with sports suspension and big wheels can be surprisingly uncomfortable on anything other than smooth road surfaces. 

The base 2-litre four-cylinder cars are eager, and not much slower than the 2.2-litre models. They also use much less fuel and cost less to maintain, so if outright speed is not a priority then these models are a great compromise. 

At the other end of the scale, the M powered Z4 is a different proposition altogether. Using the 343bhp engine from the heavier E46 M3, and with a full M-spec suspension system, the Z4 M coupe and roadster models took the fight straight to Porsche and Mercedes. The award-winning engine is one of the all-time great naturally aspirated units, providing a raw edged driving experience that will leave you breathless. Running costs are relatively reasonable for a car of this type, although certain M specific components can be pricey - especially if sourced from BMW.

Gearbox options were five-speed manuals and automatics on the early cars, with the facelift introducing six-speed variants. The Sequential Manual Gearbox was made available on a limited number of the 3.0-litre cars and while fun when pressing on, they can be jerky in town driving.

There’s a huge choice whitch means that you can afford to be picky, and it’s absolutely worth driving a few different models. The driving experience between a base spec four-pot Z4 and a sporty three-litre model is surprisingly different.
Performance and specs
Engine 2996cc 24valve DOHC I6 
Power 261bhp @ 6600 rpm 
Torque 232lb ft @ 2750rpm
Top speed 155mph (limited)
0-62mph 5.7 seconds 
Fuel consumption 32.8mpg 
Gearbox Six-speed manual
Insurance group 44
Dimensions and weight
Wheelbase 2495mm
Length 4090mm
Width 1780mm
Height 1300mm
Weight 1385kg
Common problems

• Parts are readily available and many maintenance items can be sourced from specialists.

• Suspension systems are generally reliable, however the springs are prone to snapping especially at the rear. Front control arm bushes tend to wear out and can be noticed by loose-feeling steering and creaking noises. Strut braces on the rear can break at the weld seams and will require expensive repairs. 

• Electrical systems are reliable, however some owners have complained of erratic wipers requiring motor replacements, which can be costly. Test all the buttons and switches inside the vehicle in case anything is amiss. 

• The interior is well built and there are no specific issues however the seats do rub against the body when pushed right back and can cause irritating squeaks when driving. 

• Engines are long lasting and should be smooth and free revving, especially the six-cylinder models. Power steering pumps can fail on early cars and the cooling system needs to be serviced regularly. The water pump can fail if the correct coolant mixture is not adhered to. 

• On M cars, check that the 1200-mile run in service was done, as failure to do so has been known to result in excessive engine wear. Crankcase ventilation oil separators can clog up and cause damage to the engine, but replacement parts are not unduly pricey.

• On convertible cars check the roof mechanism for any signs of slow operation or creasing in the roof lining. There should be no water ingress so any leaks may indicate an issue with the alignment of the roof or the side window fitment.
Model History 

2003: BMW Z4 launched in 170bhp 2.2, 190bhp 2.5 and 228bhp 3.0 litre versions. Five-speed manual and automatic transmission choices available, with SMG gearbox option available on 2.5 and 3.0 litre cars
2005: 215bhp 2.5si and 261bhp 3.0si engines replace older units resulting in lower emissions and higher power outputs. Navigation and heated seats introduced as optional extras, and SMG gearbox now only available on 3.0-litre cars. 2.2i six-cylinder entry level option replaced with 150bhp 2.0l four-cylinder engine.
2006: Mid-life facelift with new colours, wheel choices and minor changes to lighting. Six-speed manual and automatic gearboxes now available. Z4 Coupe introduced with 3.0-litre 261bhp engine,as wells as M Coupe with 343bhp M division engine.
2008: Final E85/86 Z4 rolls off the line
Owners clubs, forums and websites
• www.bmwcarclubgb.uk
• z4-forum.com
Summary and prices

Prices start at £3000-£4000 for the earliest cars, and as long as they have solid service and maintenance histories they can carry on forever, so don’t be put off by higher mileages. £6000-£8000 will get you one of the later cars. M Coupes and M Roadsters range between £12,000-£25,000 with condition and mileage being the biggest influencing factors on these cars.
The first Z4 has proven to be a great second-hand buy with reasonable running costs and styling that has improved with age. There are a lot of cars out there with a spec level and price to suit most people. It’s also a great way of experiencing the last of the old school BMWs, built before the motoring industry’s move to turbocharging and flappy paddles, so buy one now and enjoy it while you still can.
Words: John Tallodi
BMW Z4 3.0 BMW Z4 3.0 BMW Z4 3.0 BMW Z4 3.0 Coupe BMW Z4 3.0 Coupe
Last updated: 4th Dec 2015
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BMW Z4 cars for sale

243 Search results
3490 32995 GBP

    £11,840 £11,840

    A1 Sports and Performance are delighted to offer this superb BMW Z4 23i Sdrive with full BMW main dealer service history and only 51,338 miles on the clock., Upgrades - Loudspeaker System - BMW Professional, CD - AUX, Electronic park brake, Start/STOP, Alloy Wheels - 18in Multi-Spoke Style 293, Heated seats, Electric windows x4, Leather upholstery, Black Full leather interior, Standard Features - Air-Conditioning (Automatic), Alarm, Tyre Pressure Control, Electric Windows (Front/Rear), In Car Entertainment (Radio/CD/MP3), Computer (Driver Information System). 2 seats, Metallic White

    • Mileage: 51338 mi
    • Engine size: 2.497
    For sale
    A1 Sports Performance
    0117 956 8471 VIEW CONTACT NUMBER

    £7,999 £7,999

    BMW Z4 2.5 Si SPORTS ROADSTER Convertible, Manual. Petrol. 2007 (57 reg), DRIVE AWAY TODAY, Next MOT due 30/08/2017, 66,036 miles,Full service history, Excellent bodywork, Multicolour Full leather interior - Excellent Condition, Tyre condition Excellent, Alloy Wheels (18in), Air-Conditioning (Automatic), Electric Windows (Front/Rear), In Car Entertainment (Radio/CD/MP3), Alarm, Computer (Driver Information System), Traction control, Remote central locking, Power-Assisted Steering, Parking aid, Cruise control, CD Player, Air conditioning, Air Bag Passenger, Adjustable Steering Column/Wheel, Heated seats. 2 seats, Silver, Free Oil Service and Pre-Sale Inspection. HPi And National Mileage Certificate. Finance Available. Credit and debit cards accepted. BUY WITH PEACE OF MIND. WE HAVE BEEN ESTABLISHED FOR OVER 23 YEARS, DELIVERIES ARRANGED. GBP 7,999

    • Mileage: 66036 mi
    • Engine size: 2.497
    For sale
  • BMW Z4

    £14,895 £14,895

    Heated Seats, BMW Professional Hi-Fi, Electric retractable hard top, Parking Sensors, Full Leather Personalised ' Zed' Numberplate Included! Great Factory Specification in Fantastic Condition, Upgrades - Navigation System - BMW Professional Multimedia, Loudspeaker System - BMW Professional, Pure White Exclusive Design Package 30i, Sports Seats, Seat Heating, Wind Deflector, Windscreen with Grey Shade Band, Fineline Anthracite Interior Wood Trim,High-Gloss, DAB Digital Radio, Alloy Wheels - 18in V Spoke Style 294, USB Audio Interface, 3 months warranty, Last serviced on 04/02/2016 at 27,632 miles, White Full leather interior, Standard Features - Air-Conditioning (Automatic), Kansas Leather Upholstery, 17in Light Alloy Star-Spoke Style 290, Rain Sensor with Automatic Headlamp Activation, Upholstery Leather, Tyre Pressure Control, Alarm, Alloy Wheels (17in), Electric Windows (Front/Rear), In Car Entertainment (Radio/CD/MP3), Computer (Driver Information System), Rain Sensor. 2 seats, Black, FINANCE PACKAGES - With a number of lenders on board we are able to offer packages to suit individual circumstances, including Sub Prime. HPI CLEAR - All vehicles are provided with full HPI reports. WARRANTY - At Velvis Cars we provide every vehicle with a standard 3 month warranty through Auto Protect. An upgraded 6 month warranty, or wear and tear policies over 6 and 12 months are also available on request. Call or Text up to 10pm. 7 days a week. Please call James, Tom or Andrew to arrange a viewing

    • Mileage: 31000 mi
    • Engine size: 2996
    For sale
  • BMW

    £5,995 £5,995

    THIS BMW 3.0 SE HAS JUST ARRIVED AT R.S VEHICLE SALES BLUE, SOURCE - We are fortunate enough to of purchased this BMW Z4 3.0 SE from a BMW main dealer who had taken it in Part Exchange against a newer vehicle. CONDITION - it has been incredibly Well looked after by its former keepers from new, SERVICE HISTORY - This car comes with a Comprehensive Service History, VOSA Verified Mileage and October 2017 MOT. PRESENTATION - It looks stunning presented in Toledo Blue Metallic and rides on 18in M Sport Alloy wheels. It boasts a Heated Oregon Black Leather interior which is in Superb condition for the vehicle's age and mileage. SPECIFICATION - This Z4 SE has considerable optional extras including Xenon Headlights, Multi Function Steering Wheel, HIFI Loudspeaker System, M Sport Suspension, M Sports Seats, 6 CD Changer, Park Distance Control (PDC), Memory Seats, Bluetooth Phone Preperation, 18in Composite Star Spoke Alloy Wheels, 2 Keys Plus Much More. R.S Vehicles Sales - We offer fantastic part exchange valuations, industry leading extended warranties, and all of our vehicles are HPI clear. All cars fully prepared to a high standard and fully valeted for sale. ** PLEASE CONTACT US BEFORE YOU TRAVEL TO VIEW A CAR AS WE ARE OFTEN OUT COLLECTING NEW STOCK. ALL OF OUR CARS ARE AVAILABLE TO VIEW IN OUR INDOOR SHOWROOM SO PLEASE DO NOT WORRY ABOUT THE WEATHER ** Family Run Business, Open 7 Days, By Appointment., GBP 5,995

    • Mileage: 76000 mi
    • Engine size: 2.979
    For sale
  • BMW Z4 2.0 M Sport Roadster 2008

    £6,995 £6,995

    Presented in Titanium Silver metallic with Black Active Sports leather/sport fibre interior. This car comes with a full BMW service history, and an MOT until September 2017!!! ;;Specification includes the following;;;18" Alloys ;Electric Windows;Climatic Air Conditioning;Power Steering;Remote Locking;Heated Seats;Trip Computer;CD Stereo;Electric Roof;Airbags;CD Stereo + Multichanger;Multi Function Steering Wheel;Cup Holders;2 x Keys;;HPI and VOSA checked;;This is a great opportunity to purchase, a well maintained, fast appreciating, premium convertible, at a fantastic price.;;Part exchange and finance facilities available.;;All major credit/debit cards accepted.;;Please contact us to arrange a viewing.

    • Mileage: 50000 mi
    • Engine size: 1.997
    For sale
  • BMW Z4 Coupe

    £14,950 £14,950

    Variant name:SE ,Derivative:Si ,Variant: Sport (Si) BMW Z4 3.0SI SE 2DR AUTO SAT NAV + MORE, 2 Doors, Automatic, Coupe, Petrol, 2008 58 Reg, 40089 miles, Metallic CARBON BLACK. MEDIA PACK SATELLITE NAVIGATION, PADDLE SHIFT GEAR BOX, RED LEATHER, VISIBILITY PACK XENON LIGHTS, HEATED FRONT SEATS, DRIVER MEMORY SEAT, VERY NICE EXAMPLE MUST BE VIEWED, ABS, Alloy wheels, Front armrest, Headlight washers, Immobiliser, Passenger airbag, Privacy Glass, Xenon Lights, Bluetooth, Tinted glass, Multi function steering wheel, Radio/CD, Sports seats, Park distance control, Foglights, Heated seats, Side airbags, Traction control, Electric door mirrors, Front fog lights, Heated door mirrors, Leather seat trim, PAS, Remote central locking, Steering wheel rake adjustment, Trip computer, Alarm, Body coloured bumpers, Drivers airbag, Front electric windows, Metallic Paint, Steering wheel reach adjustment, Service indicator, Rear electric windows, Electrically adjustable passenger seat, Height adjustable drivers seat, Electrically adjustable drivers seat, Front head restraints, Leather seats, Folding rear seats, Navigation system. Insurance Group:18, £14,950 p/x welcome

    • Year: 2008
    • Mileage: 46106 mi
    • Engine size: 3
    For sale
  • BMW Z4

    £5,000 £5,000

    Air Conditioning, Climate Control, Power Steering, Traction Control, Trip Computer, Full Leather, Electric Mirrors, Xenon Headlamps, ABS, Multiple Airbags, Alarm, Power Hood, Electric Windows, Locking Wheel Nuts, Central Locking, Remote Central Locking, Colour Coded Body, Metallic Paintwork, Radio, CD Player, Height Adjustable Seat, Finance Available, Part Exchange Available, Supplied with Warranty AZ Autos present for sale a 2005 BMW Z4 2.2l Se in metallic Black. A great drive with sharp handling, a well-balanced chassis and good looks too - the Z4''s swooping design, classy look and road-hugging stance attracts more than its fair share of admiring glances, especially with the roof down showing off the beautiful red leather interior. The super-fast electric roof retracts in just 10 seconds and the Z4 is practical with a surprisingly capacious boot. Our Z4 has 6 services all in all with service stamps at 15k, 32k, 43k, 61k, 81k and 83k, averaging every 13k miles with 7 months MOT remaining.You can also reserve this car for 48 hours with a £150 refundable deposit. Good Credit, Poor Credit, No Credit? We work with lenders to get you the best rates. Click to our website and apply for finance with a decision within 60 seconds. Only RAC Approved Dealers offer RAC BuySure; a guarantee that all of our vehicles have been prepared to the RAC 82 point Approved Preparation Standard and come with: A Car Data Check, a minimum 3 months RAC Warranty, 12 months RAC Breakdown Cover and RAC Accident Care. Buy from us with confidence. Please check our website for Warranty options and why not try our Part Exchange Valuation tool?

    • Mileage: 83924 mi
    • Engine size: 2171
    For sale
  • BMW Z4 Z4 3.0i SE ROADSTER 2dr Petrol Auto 2004 62000 Blue

    £5,990 £5,990

    A VERY CLEAN EXAMPLE OF AN ICONIC Z4 3.0i BENEFITING FROM A FULL SERVICE HISTORY AND IN A RARE COLOUR.;;Upgrades/Spec Includes: Maldives Blue Metallic Paintwork, Black Leather Electric Seats With Memory Function, M sports Suspension, Automatic Air Conditioning, CD Changer For 6 CDS, Radio BMW Business CD, Cupholders, Auto Lights And Wipers, On Board Computer, Sports Leather Steering Wheel, Fog Lights, Chrome Line Interior, BMW LA Turbine Styling Wheels. Serviced At 16k, 27k, 31k, 45k And 59k Miles.

    • Mileage: 62000 mi
    • Engine size: 2.979
    For sale
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